thick book on balloon (vector)Our thanks to author Lynne Hinkey for this guest post!

On Tuesday April 1, I held a virtual book party to celebrate the release of my second novel, Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons. Virtual, meaning the party took place online, on a Facebook Event page.

As an author, I receive dozens of Facebook event invitations each week–

  • Cover Reveal Party!
  • Print Book Release party!
  • E-book Release Party!
  • I’m writing a book party!

We authors love parties and Facebook gives us a great way to do that without having to shower, dress, and put on makeup. But, with so many Facebook author events, how could I stand out from the crowd?

Like many authors, I’m not exactly shy, but I’m not comfortable marketing and selling myself, either. It’s not that I don’t think my book is the best thing since peanut butter, but I don’t want to be the one to say that. I don’t want to jump up and down, waving my arms, shouting “Look at me! Look at my book!” and that’s how I feel when I do any book promoting.

Solution: While my party was about me and my book (it did take place on SOcial MEdia–So Me–after all), I made it a multi-author event and put the focus on the guest authors who helped me to celebrate.

Sharing the spotlight with multiple authors, and shouting, “Look at them! Look at their books! Aren’t they fabulous?” and occasionally whispering, “Oh, and I have this new book out that you might be interested in, too,” felt infinitely more comfortable to me. This event wasn’t just me talking about me, but about friends celebrating with me.

The virtual book party was an all-day event (noon until 8 pm), following a format I copied from a similar event hosted by Normandie Fischer for the launch of her novel, Sailing Out of Darkness. Each hour, a different author hosted the discussion, with me in the first and last hours. In between, I served as moderator, introducing each author, asking guests to “like” their author pages, and, if needed, kicking off the discussion with some questions.

Once started, the chatter usually took off quickly so I could step back and keep a list of who was there. At the end of each hour, anyone who had left a comment during that hour was entered into a drawing (each hour two winners were chosen, one for the featured author’s book and one for mine).

The format, including the drawing, served a number of purposes. First, it took the pressure off me to talk about myself and my new novel all day long.

Second, just like at a real party, guests mixed and mingled with lots of other people, not just the host. Everyone met new authors and discovered new books. And, because we had a variety of genres (from romance/Christian fiction to crime caper, and from a nonfiction travelogue to fantasy) there was something for everyone.

Third, this approach increased the potential audience size and event reach. I invited all of my Facebook friends and asked each of the six guest authors to do the same. We also tweeted about the event and posted information to our blogs to get the word out far and wide.

Finally, the lure of a raffle–show up and leave a comment and you could win a free book!–kept people coming back again and again throughout the day for another chance to win. That ensured that no matter which author invited them, guests showed up and met other authors, too, giving all of us exposure to new readers.

The authors who joined me included a fellow Where Writers Win member, Jo Anne Simson, three writers from my online writing group, the Internet Writing Workshop, and two writer-friends I met through our mutual loves of sailing, writing, and travel.

While some marketing sites suggest partnering only with authors who have a big So-Me following, who can bring a crowd to the party, I chose authors whose work I’ve read and admire, and who I could proudly promote. The number of followers they brought along was only a secondary consideration. To see the authors and their books, go HERE.

Over 100 unique readers popped in and out throughout the day. The bonus: the event site is still getting hits and comments two weeks later and all of the featured authors reported back either an increase in sales, “likes,” or traffic on their websites. Many of the guests have told me how much they enjoyed both the party and the books and authors they’ve discovered because of it.

For new authors, exposure to new readers is important. This event, with guests from seven different authors’ friend-bases, accomplished that. A virtual party on Facebook is a great way to spread the word about a new release without feeling like it’s “So-Me.” What I found most surprising about my virtual party was how much it felt like the real thing. I attribute that to the highly interactive format and variety of authors and guests. I’d highly recommend a similarly formatted virtual party to celebrate any new release.

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 9.05.15 AMEditor’s Note: To create a Facebook event, head to your Facebook page, click “Events” and you’ll see an option button to “Create Event.” Click that, and up will pop this easy screen to fill in the blanks. If you get stuck trying to find your events page, just go to the Help menu and type in “Create Event.”

meLynne Hinkey is a writer by passion, a marine scientist by training, and a curmudgeon by nature. Her latest novel, Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons, is a tale of magic and monsters run amok on a tropical island. Her first novel, Marina Melee, follows George as he sails to a tropical-island to escape the rat race, only to find that living the easy life is hard work. Both are available through Casperian Books. Visit her at

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8 thoughts on “How to Host a Virtual Book Party

  • October 19, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Hope you’re still looking at this post…:)

    I’m getting ready to do a release party for my book and I was curious as to whether you or any of your readers had suggestions as to whether it is better to host from your personal author page or from the book’s fb page?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    • October 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

      So long as the author page isn’t just your personal page (where people have to become friends vs. just liking the page), would go for the author page… But if that’s your personal-be-my-friend page, then the book page!

  • May 6, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I went to the party and it was fun! Amazing!! Despite the fact that my Facebook access flaked out for about five minutes.

  • May 5, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Great idea – I’ve hesitated to throw a launch party for my releases because I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to hear me talk about my books for a solid hour, let alone all day long!

    I’m curious why you chose Facebook as the venue for your launch party, rather than Google Hangouts, Twitter, or some other social media site.


    • May 5, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      Good question, Tricia. I suppose the format would work on any of those other SoMe venues, too, but I use Facebook more than those, have an author page with 700+ likes (more than I have groups or circles on Google or followers on Twitter) and I’m more comfortable navigating there than on the others.

  • April 29, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for being part of it, Normandie! And Guilie, what a great idea for “real” release parties, too. The more authors the merrier–and less stressful–for all!

  • April 28, 2014 at 10:40 am

    How wonderful, Lynne, that the launch party was such a success. I like your idea of “sharing the spotlight”; I think it would make me uncomfortable to be center stage all the time (even some of the time, haha), and having good friends and great writers to add to the conversation takes the edge off. Actually, I can’t see why something like this couldn’t work in a non-virtual setting, too.

    Congrats (again) on the new release!

  • April 27, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Hey, Lynne, fun to see you here. Thanks for mentioning me and my latest book. I love the multi-author book party, which I first hosted with my release of Becalmed back in July. I’d seen all those other authors hosting parties on their own and couldn’t abide the idea of the me-me of it all. So much easier for this introvert to slide in under the radar as hostess instead of sole attraction. I’m the one who hates cocktail parties unless I can find one or two people with whom I can spend time really talking, you know? And anything that takes the focus off of me has to be a better idea. So, voilà! The multi-author event, meeting a lot of new people, learning about others during their hour on stage. What could be better?

    It seems as if the idea has taken off, with several of those who partied during Becalmed’s launch doing the same thing for the release of their book. (And now you from Sailing out of Darkness.) Makes me feel like a proud mama.

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